Cobalt CEO resigns, BHP Billiton man takes helm

  • Business & Finance

Cobalt International Energy has announced the resignation of its current Chief Executive Officer and the appointment of Timothy J. Cutt as new CEO and as a Class I member of the Board of Directors, each effective July 2, 2016.

According to Cobalt, Timothy Cutt brings over 30 years of oil and gas experience, most recently as President, Petroleum of BHP Billiton where he was accountable for its global oil and gas business. Cutt assumes the CEO role from Joseph H. Bryant who has resigned as the company’s Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, and as a member of the Board of Directors, each effective June 1, 2016.

In connection with Bryant’s resignation, William P. Utt, the company’s lead independent director, has been appointed as Interim Chairman of the Board of Directors and Van P. Whitfield, the company’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, has been appointed as Interim Chief Executive Officer, each effective June 1, 2016. In addition, Whitfield has been appointed as a Class II member of the Board of Directors.

Interim Chairman Utt said: “We thank Joe for his vision and leadership since Cobalt’s founding in 2005. As Cobalt transitions from a preeminent exploration company to one combining significant exploration and production capabilities, on behalf of all of Cobalt, I welcome Tim as our new CEO and as a member of the Board. Tim is the right executive to come aboard at a critical time for the company. I also want to thank Van Whitfield for agreeing to serve as Cobalt’s Interim Chief Executive Officer with Joe’s resignation. As Chief Operating Officer, Van has the operating experience and deep institutional knowledge of Cobalt to assume the reins before Tim joins Cobalt. We look forward to working with both of these executives during this transition as we continue the journey to best position Cobalt for the future.”

Cutt said: “Cobalt has been able to achieve exceptional exploration success over the years, competing with the largest companies in the world in a very capital intensive industry. I look forward to taking Cobalt into its next chapter by driving our discoveries to meaningful production and solidifying Cobalt’s future as a leading independent E&P company.”

Cutt served as President, Petroleum of BHP Billiton from July 2013 until March 2016. Cutt joined BHP Billiton in 2007 as the President of the Production Division in the Petroleum business where he was accountable for running operations in the UK, Pakistan, Trinidad & Tobago, Algeria, Australia and the US.

Before joining BHP Billiton, Cutt held positions in engineering, operations and senior management for 25 years with Mobil Oil Corporation and then ExxonMobil. During this time he spent 10 years supporting exploration and production activities in the Gulf of Mexico and held positions of President Hibernia Management and Development Co. and President of ExxonMobil de Venezuela.

In connection with Cutt’s employment and in accordance with New York Stock Exchange rules regarding employment inducement awards, Cobalt will grant Cutt a one-time initial equity award of service-based restricted shares of the company’s common stock with a value on grant date of $4 million.

The award of service-based restricted stock will vest in three equal installments on each of the first three anniversaries of the grant date, subject to Cutt’s continued employment with Cobalt on each such date or a qualifying termination of employment. The award was granted outside of Cobalt’s current equity compensation plan and is intended to qualify as an “employment inducement award” within the meaning of New York Stock Exchange Listing Rule 303A.08, which rule requires public announcement of inducement awards.

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